International Marriage Brokers
BROKERS MAY PUT WOMEN AT RISK
International marriage brokers, or IMBs, operate largely online, and invite male customers to review profiles of women living overseas in order to facilitate an eventual marriage. Because the men pay significant fees to the brokers, the IMB industry encourages a dangerous sense of entitlement or ownership among their customers over the women they meet through the service. Some agencies may use language to describe potential brides in a way that may attract men looking for vulnerable targets. The IMB industry’s profit model and marketing practices may put women living overseas at risk for exploitation, abuse, and violence.
In the early 2000s, Tahirih Justice Center documented a nationwide trend of abuse and exploitation perpetrated by men who met their wives through the IMB industry. Tahirih mobilized a national coalition to push for laws to regulate the IMB industry and offer lifesaving information to women overseas contemplating a marriage through a broker. As a result of these efforts, and with bi-partisan support, in 2006, Congress enacted the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA), which was further strengthened in 2013.
The law imposes commonsense regulations on IMBs, such as prohibiting these companies from advertising children under age 18 as potential mates, and providing information about any violent criminal history belonging to the American man to the potential foreign fiancée. This enables women to make informed decisions that will help protect them from harm. IMBRA is a powerful deterrent to violent predators who are looking for foreign women to abuse and exploit.
Despite the years that have passed since Congress passed IMBRA, U.S. agencies have yet to fully implement and enforce the law. Tahirih seeks the full implementation of IMBRA, and is committed to translating IMBRA into meaningful and effective protections for foreign brides coming to the United States.